Choosing a Higher-Ed School: 6 Topics to Cover

Writing down the answers to these questions may help you start thinking about the kind of school you’d like to attend. This is just a ‘starter list’ – add or delete questions.


  1. Why am I going to college?
  2. What do I want to get out of my college experience?
  3. What do I want to do when I finish my degree?
  4. Where do I see myself in 10 years?
  5. What are the “must-have” qualities the school needs?
  6. What is influencing my decision in choosing a school and/or career?
  7. What do I want to do? Are my decisions based on I want or what my friends or family want?


  1. What areas of study am I interested in?
  2. How much time and effort do I want to put into my studies?
  3. Would I do better in a more self-directed program or with more guidance and supervision?
  4. What kind of environment would best work for my value system, political attitudes and personality?


  1. If I could be accepted into any school with a full scholarship, where would I go and why?
  2. What if I got accepted into this school, but would have to take out loans or work part-time — would I still want to go there?
  3. What factors will determine where I go to school (i.e. finances, curriculum programs, preferences of location)?
  4. Beyond what my parents and scholarships are able to provide, how much am I willing to invest in my education?
  5. Will I work part-time, apply for a loan?
  6. Are there some colleges on my list that I will attend only if I get a full scholarship?
  7. Are there other schools on my list that I would sacrifice for in order to go to (i.e. taking fewer classes at a time in order to work more or applying for a college loan)?

Social Life

  1. Am I looking forward to meeting new people or do I want to go to the same college as my high school friends? Are my friends going to a school I want to go to?
  2. What size school do I want?
  3. Do I want to know everyone in my class or always have the opportunity to meet new people?
  4. What type of political and philosophical atmosphere am I looking for?
  5. Would I be more comfortable in a conservative or liberal school?
  6. Which activities am I interested in pursuing while at college?
  7. Do I want to join a fraternity or sorority?
  8. Do I want to play intramural sports?
  9. Do I want to go to a school known for its sports teams?


  1. Where would I want to go to school geographically?
  2. Would I rather live in a big city or rural area?
  3. Have I always wanted to live near the ocean or mountains?
  4. Could I brave the winters of the North or survive the humidity of the South?
  5. Would I rather live in my hometown, live within a reasonable driving distance to home or go somewhere and be completely on my own?
  6. Do I need lots of things to do in the college town or would I mind having to travel to a nearby city?

Other Preferences

  1. Would I prefer a single-sex or co-ed school?
  2. Would I prefer a substance-free campus?
  3. Would I prefer a single-sex or substance-free dorm?
  4. Does it matter if the school is public or private?
  5. Do I want a religiously affiliated school?